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What Is Aluminum?

Lining a broiling pan with aluminum foil can make cleanup easier.
Aluminum can.
Aluminum has an atomic number of 13, and it is identified with the symbol Al on the periodic table of elements.
Aluminum ladder.
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  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2014
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Aluminum is an abundant metallic chemical element which is widely used throughout the world for a wide range of products. Many consumers interact with some form of it on a daily basis, especially if they are active in the kitchen. The element has an atomic number of 13, and it is identified with the symbol Al on the periodic table of elements. It is classified in the poor metals, sharing the property of extreme malleability with metals like tin and lead. The international standard spelling is aluminium.

The history of this element is actually quite old. Various forms have been used for centuries; aluminum oxides, for example, appear in pottery and glazes from Ancient Egypt. The Romans also used it, in the form of a substance they called alum. In the 1800s, Hans Christian Oersted isolated an impure form of the element, and he was followed by Friedrich Wohler, who succeeded in isolating the pure form in 1827.

At first, scientists believed that aluminum was extremely rare and difficult to extract, and the metal was at one point highly prized. Several sculptures from the 1800s illustrate this commonly held belief. In 1886, however, an American student named C.M. Hall and a Frenchman named Paul Herout developed a process for smelting ores to extract their valuable aluminum. The Hall-Heroult method is now extensively used throughout the world to isolate the element from ores such as bauxite.

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Far from being rare, aluminum is in fact the third most common element in the Earth's crust, and it is the most common metallic element on Earth. In a pure form, aluminum is silvery white and extremely lightweight. The element blends readily to make lightweight but very strong alloys, and it conducts both heat and electricity very well. In addition, it is non-magnetic, which can be a highly useful property in some applications. The myriad uses for the metal and its compounds include auto manufacture, construction, paints, packaging, cooking utensils, antacids, antiperspirants, and astringents.

While aluminum itself is not inherently toxic, there are some risky aspects to the element. People who work around high volumes of it can become ill, especially if they inhale the element. Children appear to be susceptible to this element, especially if their kidneys do not function well. It appears that it may also cause neuromuscular and skeletal problems, although the exact danger threshold is unknown. Study on aluminum products has suggested that they are safe for most consumers, although some people may experience contact dermatitis when they handle products like pots, antiperspirants, and antacids.

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Discuss this Article

anon312783
Post 74

What happens when aluminum and nickle are combined?

anon309066
Post 72

Why is aluminium not used in its pure form to make pans, cans or airplanes?

anon285529
Post 71

That is not aluminum - it's aluminium as per the periodic table of elements.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for your comment! "Aluminium" is the common spelling in the UK whereas "aluminum" is the common US spelling. We generally go with the American spellings of terms.

anon274241
Post 69

The sunroom on my home has two walls of aluminum framing supporting the glass panels. Where the framing is in contact with the concrete floor, there is serious corrosion of the framing taking place in the form of a bubbling sticky jelly like white substance.

Can somebody tell me if I can treat it with something to stop the corrosion?

anon267170
Post 68

Can anyone tell me if aluminium forms in the earth's crust or does it have to be created by man?

maggie332
Post 63

Can the aluminum in deodorant cause breast cancer?

anon171142
Post 61

Aluminium is taken out of a mined out from a substance called bo-oxide. it is mined out of it then is required a lot of energy to take out the impurities from aluminium.

anon166624
Post 60

could someone tell me about this reaction, please"

Al(NO3)3.9H2O + C12H25SO4Na = ???

anon163127
Post 59

Is aluminum made out of the actual element aluminum?

alexdude1324
Post 58

I'm doing a science project on aluminum so if someone could tell me something about it.

anon154361
Post 55

What does aluminum react with?

anon152104
Post 54

Can someone please tell me what properties of aluminium allow it to be extracted. I need this for my chemistry exam. Please reply.

anon146129
Post 53

stable aluminium is made by fusing magnesium and hydrogen in a large star or supernova.

anon130157
Post 51

What is aluminum made from? I need it for a research paper!

anon128749
Post 50

what are the raw materials of aluminum?

anon127264
Post 48

Aluminium is an element so it cannot be made of other elements! An element is a chemical in its simplest form.

anon95723
Post 46

i think this website is good for information but the grammar is appalling! You don't spell aluminium like this: "Aluminum" It's "Aluminium."

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK and contributing to the discussion forums. "Aluminium" is the common spelling in the UK. "Aluminum" is the common US spelling and most of the wiseGEEK writers are from the United States. Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, lists both spellings as correct.

Again, thank you for visiting wiseGEEK.

anon80881
Post 43

Can aluminum be broken into liquid form? And what will one have to do to sustain that form?

anon73439
Post 42

What are its properties?

anon72644
Post 41

What is aluminium made from? i am doing an assignment on aluminium and need to know what it is made from. please write on the site what it is made from.

anon70858
Post 40

What's aluminium made from? I have a six page exam and need know to revise.

anon70758
Post 39

Do we have aluminium inside of us?

anon68526
Post 38

Where can you find aluminum? Please, i need to know asap!

anon65596
Post 36

aluminum is a mineral found on earth, then they add more minerals and chemicals.

anon65025
Post 35

What are its properties?

anon64365
Post 33

how is is made? give me the word like O = oxygen

anon62807
Post 32

Where is aluminum found in nature? In what form is it found? How is it obtained in pure form? What commercial value does it have? What dangers are associated with its use? What are some of its properties? What are some of its useful compounds when combined with other elements? What is aluminum made of?

Need to know for a research paper due in five days!

anon52617
Post 30

yes aluminum is in vaccines!

anon51939
Post 29

what is it made of? what are the elements of aluminium?

anon50524
Post 27

what is aluminum made out of in general?

anon50161
Post 26

is aluminum in vaccine stabilizers?

anon49606
Post 25

what is aluminum's commercial value?

anon48109
Post 24

Airplanes are made from what kind of aluminium? And where can I find this kind of aluminium? Thanks

anon39907
Post 21

This website is really good for assignments!

anon38716
Post 20

Where is aluminum found in nature? In what form is it found? How is it obtained in pure form? What commercial value does it have? What dangers are associated with its use? What are some of its properties? What are some of its useful compounds when combined with other elements?

Please answer it now... It is really needed now... It is our research paper... it will be submitted on July 29,2009... So please!!!

anon38356
Post 19

Where can aluminium be mined in New Zealand? I'm doing an assignment and need to know. thanks!

anon38112
Post 18

what is added to the raw materials of aluminium to create finished materials?

anon34013
Post 16

Does anyone know where to find aluminum?

anon33787
Post 15

Where is Aluminum mined in Australia?

anon28890
Post 14

to helpmenow,

no u r thinking of copper, copper goes a blue-green colour and aluminum rusts.

anon28889
Post 13

Where is aluminum mined in Australia?

anon28888
Post 12

if u r doing an assignment on aluminum use this website! it's useful!

anon20046
Post 11

To anon18687 Aluminum is just made from aluminum atoms. It can be made into drink cans, foil, hoses, and lots of other stuff

anon18687
Post 10

Need to know what aluminum is made from and possibly a list of what it can be made into for an assignment - please help!!

anon17033
Post 9

When will it burn? How does it react with water?

daltonchris
Post 8

what kind of aluminm is used to make crysals??

anon12856
Post 7

Name a mineral used to make aluminum.

anon12739
Post 6

I need to know the source of the raw material and details of how this is initially treated, two major uses of the substance and two physical or chemical properties involved for each use.

Please reply asap, this is for an assignment. thanks!!!

helpmenow
Post 5

why does aluminum sometimes have a greenish tint to it after a period of time?

anon9945
Post 4

Hello, do any of you know where Aluminium ore is melted down in NZ?

Please...this is very important. An assignment from school

thanx

Moderator's reply: i found a source that names the Tīwai Point smelter in Southland, New Zealand as a large processor of aluminum. good luck on your assignment!

lamaestra
Post 3

Aluminum is a chemical element - it is a mineral found in nature in combination with other minerals, but not actually "made from" anything.

lamaestra
Post 2

Aluminum is a chemical element - it is a mineral found in nature in combination with other minerals.

anon5128
Post 1

What is aluminium made from?? i am doing an assignment on aluminium and need to know what it is made from. please write on the site what it is made from.

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